•  Adjusting your monitor  •

Since this website is about pictures, it seems proper to let you know if you're seeing them the way they were intended. The simple proceedure here will help you find that out.

The little graphic below has 16 shaded squares. They range from black to white in 16 equal steps. The center squares are easy for your computer monitor and you should have no trouble seeing the difference in shading from one square to the next.

 
                   
 

It's the end squares that will tell you if your monitor is calibrated correctly. You should be able to see the difference in shading between the darkest 2 squares (brightness) and the lightest 2 squares (contrast). If you can not, try adjusting your monitor. Adjust until there is a just-barely-visible difference on both ends. Note that these adjustments interact, so you may have to go back and forth a couple times to get it right. Now, if you want to split some hairs, do your adjustments using the graphic below. It has twice as many squares with half the deviation.

 
                                              

 

• This is a good place to stop reading if you're not into technical stuff •

 

Some monitors also have a "gamma" adjustment, which allows you make sure the center brightness is actually in the center. More often than not this doesn't need changed, which is why a lot of monitors don't offer it. But if your monitor has the adjustment and you want to make it right, then keep reading.

PC's and Mac's use different gamma's. The PC uses a gamma value of 2.2 which leans toward darker mid-tones. The Mac setting of 1.8 keeps the mid-tones lighter. The picture below will tell you where your monitor is set. Step back a few feet from your monitor and choose which vertical group of pictures is most grayed out, with the smaller inner squares fading away. The label below the group will tell you your gamma.

 

Gamma 1.8
Gamma 2.0
Gamma 2.2

 

Don't be afraid to adjust the gamma, you can always put it back. I've set mine for a value of 2.0 which to me is a good compromise between the PC's "too dark" and the Mac's "too light". If you make a change here, you may need to go back and re-adjust your brightness and contrast again. Gamma sometimes interacts with the monitors "black level", or brightness.

 

• This is a very good place to stop if you don't have a really good eye •

 

The colorful chart below looks at each of the primary colors displayed by your monitor. Ideally each color brightens at the same rate and peaks out evenly. Again, you should be able to see the difference in intensity in the blocks on the ends of each color. Some monitors allow you to change each color independently, giving you the ultimate control over your monitor.

 

                               
                               
                               

 

There are lots of things that can interfere with you getting this last adjustment right. Ambient light, room color, even the time of day if your room has windows. So make these adjustments cautiously, and be aware that most monitors are designed well enough to leave this alone.

If your interest in tweaking your monitor is now peaked, then you should know that the best way to get the perfect calibration is to buy a (yes, you guessed it) monitor calibrator. There are many on the market, and a little time with Google will tell you all you need to know.